Katarina Weigel’s sudden cardiac arrest led to a family full of defibrillators

Reason No. 8: A Family History

Katarina Weigel’s sudden cardiac arrest led to a family full of defibrillators

Weigel is featured in the “I’m Alive” video calling for CPR In Schools


When Katarina Weigel collapsed on the volleyball court in 2010 at the age of 15, it wasn’t the first time her family had witnessed a sudden cardiac arrest. Her uncle had suffered sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 16 in 1984 – and didn’t survive. When doctors discovered that Katarina had an inherited arrhythmia called catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, or CPVT, all of Katarina’s family were tested for gene that causes this condition. Today, Katarina, her brother and her mother all have implantable defibrillators.

“I see silver linings everywhere,” Katarina Weigel said. “Because of my sudden cardiac arrest, we know why my uncle died, something our family has always wondered about. My sudden cardiac arrest has potentially saved my mother’s, my brother’s, and my life. I’m so grateful that my coaches started CPR when I collapsed four years ago.”

Weigel is also featured in the “I’m Alive” video that the American Heart Association created that calls for the passage of the CPR in Schools bill. That video can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/AliveCPR  

This is Week Three of the American Heart Association’s “So Many Reasons” campaign. Each legislative day, the American Heart Association will share a real story of a New Yorker impacted by sudden cardiac arrest with every member of the New York state Legislature, and the media.

Lawmakers will receive a one-page document with a photo of someone saved by CPR, someone lost to sudden cardiac arrest, or someone who lost a loved one to sudden cardiac arrest. The same will be sent to local media, and shared on the American Heart Association’s social media sites, primarily the facebook page American Heart Association – New York State.

A rally is planned for June 3 with the unveiling of a survivors’ gallery and a mass CPR demonstration at the Legislative Office building.

An updated version of the CPR in Schools legislation (A9298/S7096) has recently been introduced by Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, D-Long Beach, and Senator Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo. The bill is currently in the Education Committees in both houses.

“CPR is a lifesaving solution,” said Weisenberg. “As a former police officer, school administrator and lifeguard, I know firsthand that we need bystander CPR to save lives. Many people are alive today because individuals trained in CPR — including youth and adults who received that training in school — gave someone CPR until EMTs arrived. I’m committed to passing the CPR in Schools bill so that we can create a generation in which New Yorkers are prepared to save lives.”

“Schools prepare students with essential life skills, and CPR skills are among the most critical lifesaving skills that make our communities safer, year after year, said Grisanti. “It’s time to add New York to the growing list of states that have passed this legislation. I’m honored to sponsor the CPR schools legislation in the New York State Senate and I am proud to work in partnership with the American Heart Association and families in western New York to help make this bill become a law.”

“Every year, 424,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital, and only about 10 percent survive,” said Dan Moran, chair of the American Heart Association’s New York State Advocacy Committee. “Would you know what to do if someone collapsed in front of you? Teaching CPR in schools will save lives. When I meet people who were dead, really, with sudden cardiac arrest, and I hear everything they’ve done since being saved, you see that the CPR in Schools bill isn’t just a bill – it’s life.”


Leave a Reply